Meta has changed its mind on its VR headset prices once again, with the announcement of new, cheaper Quest and Quest Pro units as of next week.
As you can see here, Meta has reduced the price of the 256GB Quest 2 by $70, now at $429 per device, while the Quest Pro has been slashed by a whopping $500, bringing it to under $1,000 per unit.
That’s a big shift, especially when you also consider that Meta actually increased the price of both just six months ago, amid rising costs and declining ad intake.
It seems that Meta’s now more confident in its future in this respect, with its ad business getting back on track, enabling it to invest more into the VR future, and the expansion of the metaverse as a new paradigm for users.
Which is still a long way off being a reality, but in order for Meta’s VR environment to become the all-consuming, all-purpose, omnipresent experience that Zuck and Co. envision, it needs people to be involved, and it’s impossible to get that full experience without a VR headset.
In the past, Zuckerberg has talked about reducing barriers to entry, including costs, in order to facilitate more reach for its VR tools, which essentially means that it will likely need to eat at least some of the price of headset sales, in order to maximize take up.
Apple’s iOS 14 update changed things in this respect, by taking a chunk out of Meta’s ad income through reduced performance and data insight. But now, with Meta’s AI tools doing more heavy lifting, it seems that Meta’s looking to get back on track with VR adoption once again – and that reduction in price for the Quest Pro, in particular, could be a big incentive for more people to get involved.
But will they want to?
Thus far, most of the examples we’ve seen of Meta’s metaverse don’t look that inspiring, and aren’t exactly drawcards to get more people to pay up, and immerse themselves in the experience.
But then again, some newer developments will draw interest, like making the most popular VR first-person shooter ‘Population: One’ available for free in Quest.
And with the NBA finals on the horizon, making more NBA games available in VR could also be another drawcard for the units.
Unbelievable!! ???????????? Just watched the @nyknicks and @celtics game courtside in VR through the @XtadiumVR app and my mind is blown. This right here is the future of sports streaming!! @NBA More plz. @MetaQuestVR pic.twitter.com/k6kaX6r1CF— M4cheteColletti (@gapascarella) February 28, 2023
It’s not amazing as yet – Meta’s VR experience is probably not going to blow you away or change your perspective on what’s possible, at least at this stage. But it is getting better, and there are advancing, evolving uses of the technology that are steadily improving over time, which will open the door to all new experiences.
Take, for example, this update:
We continue to work toward making hands in VR a more complete and versatile interaction system. Here's an update on First Hand that shows how hands-based locomotion works. Open sourced and uses Interaction SDK for devs to check out pic.twitter.com/pkmE2ahooT— Boz (@boztank) February 21, 2023
That may not seem massive, but it’s another step towards simplified gesture control, which will eventually make VR a much more immersive and organic experience.
These shifts are important, and as more people buy VR units, and more smaller tweaks and updates continue to roll out, you can start to see a future where VR actually is a more significant consideration in our interactive landscape.
It’s still early, but Meta’s metaverse plan, for all the criticism that it’s received, could still become a very big deal, especially if it can maximize adoption through broader VR take-up.
Meta’s new Quest pricing will go into effect for the 256GB Quest 2 on March 5th, while the Quest Pro price drop will take effect March 5th in the US and Canada, and March 15th in all other countries where Meta Quest Pro is supported.